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A study of the perception of the nurse and the patient in identifying his learning needs Wadsworth, Patricia Mary

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to compare the perception of the nurse and the perception of the patient in identifying priorities for his learning needs with respect to the hospital environment and to his medical condition. A Q-sort of statements related to these two learning needs was developed and used to test the nurses' perception and the patients' perception of these learning needs. The diabetic patient was selected for study because his learning needs with respect to his condition are well documented, and the general staff nurse was selected because she is responsible for direct patient care. To test the hypotheses, the Q-sort was administered to 50 newly hospitalized diabetic patients, to 50 general staff nurses directly responsible for the care of these patients, and to 50 general staff nurses having no contact with a patient or no direct responsibility for his care. The study was conducted in a large hospital in Vancouver, British Columbia. The hypotheses assumed that the two groups of nurses and the patients would assign different priorities to the patients' learning needs. The .05 level of significance was used in this study. An analysis of selected personal characteristics of the patients provided a description of the patient population. The findings showed that all but one patient had been in hospital before, and that only three patients were newly diagnosed diabetics. An analysis of selected personal characteristics of the nurses indicated that there was no significant difference between the two groups. Thus, any differences in perception could not be attributed to these characteristics. The Q-sort scores of all three groups were examined for differences in perception and the selected personal characteristics were tested with respect to these scores. The results indicated that both groups of nurses and the patients assigned a greater degree of importance to the patient's learning needs related to his diabetic condition than those related to the hospital environment. Although the nurses attached a greater degree of importance to the former needs than did the patients, the difference was not significant. The results also indicated that a majority of nurses and patients, matched as pairs, perceived the patient's learning needs related to the diabetic condition as more important, and yet there was a significant difference in perception. Other results showed a high degree of correlation between both groups of nurses and the patients and the nurses responsible for their care, with respect to priorities assigned to statements within each of the two categories of learning needs. Although the selected personal characteristics of each group were tested with respect to their more important Q-sort scores, only a limited number of relationships were significant for the patients and the nurses directly responsible for their care and none for the other group of nurses. These significant relationships were age, marital status, duration of illness, and education of the patients, and additional education and experience of the nurses. The results of the study have demonstrated the value of the Q-sort technique as a procedure for acquiring data with respect to the learning needs of the patient. The analysis of the data of the nurses and the patients under their care provided a measurement of the quality of patient care. In addition, the analysis of the data of the patients provided a guide for the establishment of a desirable learning sequence for the individual patient.

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